Author: Frank N. Wilner


Can STB Pivot to Satisfy Shippers?

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE FEBRUARY 2024 ISSUE: Rail captive shippers—primarily of chemicals and coal—unable to utilize barge or truck alternatives and lacking two-railroad competition owing to decades of mergers are an unhappy

  • News

Fuchs Renominated to Second STB Term

Republican Patrick J. Fuchs, 35, has been nominated by President Biden to a second term on the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which has economic regulatory authority over railroad rates and practices. His


Railroads to Investors: ‘We Got This’

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE JANUARY 2024 ISSUE: It is observed—positively and negatively—that Class I freight railroads are lucrative ATMs for investors, dispensing from profits $253 billion in stock dividends and buybacks since


Sen. Herb Kohl, 1935-2023, Rail Shipper Advocate

Aside from being a successful entrepreneur whose name adorns 1,100 department stores in 49 states, or once being an owner of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks, former Sen. Herbert Hiken Kohl


The Strange Case of STB Laryngitis

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle weaved mysteries as no other, with his protagonist detective, Sherlock Holmes, well-tuned to the significance (The Adventure of Silver Blaze) of a watchdog not barking when it should.


Oberman, the Pragmatist, May be Missed

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE DECEMBER 2023 ISSUE: News item: Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairperson Martin J. Oberman will not seek renomination to a second term and depart in “early 2024.” Since his

STB’s Oberman Announces Departure

In a category 5 hurricane force stunning announcement, Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairperson Martin J. Oberman announced late on Nov 16 that he will not seek renomination to a second term (his

STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman

STB’s Torment of Precautions

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE, NOVEMBER 2023 ISSUE: Napoleon Bonaparte observed that “the torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided.” Union Army General George B. McClellan was so tormented that he failed to pursue the Confederate army more aggressively. Most recently, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) appears afflicted with the torment—immobilized to take definitive action to protect captive shippers (those lacking effective transportation alternatives to a single railroad) from rail market power abuse.


Budget Hocus Pocus Targets Rail Workers

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2023 ISSUE: Deep within the enigma of the federal budget process is a paradoxical scheme to reduce—without actually reducing—red ink. While congressional fiscal hocus pocus is not


Will Supreme Court Defang STB, FRA?

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE AUGUST 2023 ISSUE: What the Supreme Court giveth, the Supreme Court taketh—its reach and grasp primed to terminate or limit four decades of judicial permissiveness that grants federal regulatory agencies, such as the independent Surface Transportation Board (STB) and Executive Branch Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), license to interpret what is ambiguous or unclear in statutes they administer.